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Femme Disturbance - Live/d Theory

Micha Cárdenas, Author

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In our society, the circulation of Fashion thus relies in large part on an activity of transformation: there is a transition (at least according to the order invoked by Fashion magazines) from the technological structure to the iconic and verbal structures... the real garment can only be transformed into "representation" by means of certain operators which we might call shifters, since they serve to transpose one structure into another, to pass if you will, from one code to another code.

- The Fashion System, Roland Barthes

To appreciate Barthes' codes, consider the following snippet from a code poem of mine...


HiperGpsTransformerShifting, java.lang.String) {

if(genderGiven != genderDesired || birthPlace
!= destination)

walking =true;

attempt to enter into a queer time and place via the 
transcoder library */


dancing = joy;

transforming = hope && pain &&fear && fantasies && uncertainty;

//is the assignment operator, that of identity, binary in itself?

//try some other methods like becoming dragon through poetry;


uploadMyBody &~& resistLogicsOfCapital!

We can also consider the writing of Dorrine Kondo in About Face on the intersections of race, performance and fashion, who says:

How we dress, how we move, the music that accompanies our daily activities and that we create and refashion, our engagement with- and not simply the passive consumption of - media or commodities, do matter and can be includde in a repertoire of oppositional strategies.

Yet of course the fashion world is politically problematic. The battleground of style is suffused, indeed constituted, by commodification. The garment industry is deeply enmeshed in an intense semiotics of distinction and a global assembly line on which many Third World women and men toil, both in the Third World and in the implosive diaspora of the Third World and the First, as the recent raids on Southern California sweatshops only further confirm. The fashion and cosmetics industries promote aesthetic ideals that often oppressively reinscribe normative codes of gender, race, class, and sexuality. Fashion's planned obsolescence is inseparable from complicity with capitalist production and the mobilization of desire. Such complications demand a critical, multilayered consideration of fashion's contradictory implication in a politics of pleasure, avoiding the temptations of dismissive condemnation, on the one hand, and power-evasive celebration, on the other.

This passage brilliantly lays out the stakes for any consideration of the politics of femme embodiment and expression, and leads us forward into a broader consideration of non-normative embodiments.

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